A cacophony of music, cheering staff and school bus brakes squealing air as they pulled up to Jackson Elementary made the day feel more like a traditional first day of class instead of sleepy spring morning near the end of the year.
Around 40% of the district’s 23,000 pre-kindergarten to 5th grade students signed up to attend in-person classes, Beasley said. They will do so on a hybrid schedule the first couple of weeks and then attend daily face-to-face classes until the last day of school May 25.
Middle and high school students will remain all virtual.
Marcelles Blue of Morrow said remote learning has served his son Tobias Smith well, in part because it eliminated the distractions that often come with being in a class of 20 or more children. But Tobias missed being with his friends and getting out of the house into the fresh air.
“Cabin fever has set in,” Blue said of Tobias’ learning remotely. “I’m looking forward for the next couple of weeks to see what school is going to be for him. I know he’s been wanting to see his friends and teachers.”
Clayton took preventative sanitization measures to make sure it was ready for the day, including purchasing 300 portable hand washing stations for $6,000 from Love Beyond Walls, a nonprofit organization that helps connect less fortunate people with community resources.
Kiska Lyons dropped off McKenzie Clemmons, 6, for her first day of in-person kindergarten. As is typical at the beginning of a new school year, the first day meant getting the tyke to the right teacher and settling her in class.
Lyons, who has been a caregiver for McKenzie for much of the year as the child’s parents worked, said the pandemic has demonstrated the value of an education system often taken for granted.
“Being remote is a learning curve for kids,” she said. “It’s difficult trying to keep them focused and engaged. For elementary school students, they definitely need to be in a school building.”
Staff writer Kristal Dixon contributed to this report.